More than 100 MILF-BIAF members lay down firearms

Arianne Apatan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2020 12:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2020 01:34 AM

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao - A total of 106 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front - Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) laid down 542 firearms as the second phase of the decommissioning process resumed on Tuesday.

The decommissioning is part of the normalization annex of the Bangsamoro Organic Law signed between the government and the MILF.

Abdillah Saligan, a member of the MILF-BIAF who fought against the government for more than 20 years, said he values his firearm as he values his life.

But according to him, now is the time to let go and live normally as one of the civilians.

“Ito ay napakahalaga sa amin, hindi pa full pero may nakamit nang kapayapaan. Hindi na kami babalik kasi may nakamit na” said Saligan.

Each decommissioned combatant will be given P100,000 transitional cash assistance.

This is part of the socio-economic package which sums up to almost P1 million per combatant to be given by different government agencies.

“Pagbalik nila sa kanilang community may program yung [Department of Social Welfare and Development] yung re-engagement after 2 months kaya pupuntahan sila, i-evaluate yung kanilang estado,” said David Diciano, Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace implementing panel Chair.

The second phase of the decommissioning process started last September, 2019, witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

As of now, there are more than 8,000 decommissioned combatant with almost 2,000 firearms turned over to the foreign independent decommissioning body.

“We are trying to educate our people that while we need help but we need really to stand on our own feet. Mahirap yung habang buhay may dole-out. Talagang bawat isang bangsamoro, combatant tulungan ang sarili nila,” MILF peace implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said.

For this year, the government allocated P2.4 billion to implement other aspects of the normalization process such as health, education and livelihood.

Before the year ends, a total of 12,000 MILF-BIAF will be decommissioned.

This represents 30 percent of the 40,000 MILF-BIAF that are set to undergo the decommissioning process with 7,000 official firearms.

The remaining number will lay down their firearms by year 2021 to 2022 prior to the signing of the exit agreement between the government and MILF.